Several colleagues at a state university are at risk of losing a class next semester to release the state from its obligation of providing insurance. The removal of a class also would constitute a 25 percent pay cut.
Adjunct faculty members are already an exploited group, with wages tens of thousands of dollars less than that of tenured and tenured-to-be faculty. At community colleges, the wages are more absurdly low. Adjunct faculty pay at a community college is nearly a third of the university’s measly adjunct faculty per class pay ($1,500 vs. $4,000 per class).
The old argument is that adjuncts are less qualified and inferior and deserve lower wages. A recent study, summarized in the Wall Street Journal, throws a whole lot of doubt on that. The National Bureau of Economic Research found that students taught by adjunct faculty received better grades than those taught by tenured or tenured-track faculty in classes in the same area. “The results were more pronounced among relatively less-qualified students.”
Our country and state are full of less-qualified students. The College Board estimated that less than half of those taking the SAT were prepared for college-level work. The state, then, rewards those who are best able to help these unprepared students by paying paltry wages and by considering cutting classes and denying benefits.